I used to think I was indecisive, but now I’m not so sure. It’s an old pun, but to be fair I’ve always struggled when offered a choice between two equally tempting things, and that was just the case when Textron Aviation recently invited me to sample its latest Cessna Citation Longitude business jet. Faced with the option of taking the righthand seat to sample the aircraft’s performance or sitting down the back with a coffee and admiring the view I obviously looked conflicted. And so it was that the Textron Aviation team granted my wish and for once I really did have the best of both worlds.
In the cruise over the south of England I slipped back into the cabin and sank into a plush seat to watch the Isle of Wight slip below our wing. Like so many of us, flying of any description has been something of a pipedream over the last two years and it felt so good to be back in the air – albeit in rather more luxury than I normally enjoy.
With plans in place for several trips this coming year things really are starting to feel like normal again, and I’m sure I’m not alone. With the loosening of restrictions and the relaxing of borders many passengers are making plans to return to flying, whether it’s for business or pleasure.
Recently, global aviation analytics firm Cirium reported that airline passenger figures in 2021 were akin to that in 2006 but predicted growth in 2022 means that passenger numbers will return to a similar point as 2015. There’s still some way to go, but things are moving in the right direction and despite the pandemic no fewer than 132 airline start-ups were formed between January 2020 and November 2021. I’ll grant you that this is countered by 68 applying for bankruptcy protection or being liquidated because of Covid-19 stated reasons over the same period, but that’s still a net gain of 64 new carriers.
Many of these are short-haul operators with single-aisle aircraft and all will add to the demand for cabin related products and services, thus boosting the supply chain and creating or securing myriad jobs in the sector.
Talking to the guys aboard the Longitude, the ‘word in the crew room’ is that demand for pilots is surging and the same appears to be true for cabin staff. Flying schools are reporting a resurgence in people learning to fly with a view to pursuing a career in the airlines and training companies are also reporting significant growth in demand for cabin crew and operations safety training. Many in-house training teams were downsized during the pandemic and training centres were closed, but this pattern now seems to be reversing.
Sitting in my home office in Derbyshire I look out at the circuit traffic at Nottingham East Midlands Airport and over the last few months the crew training flights have become a regular sight once again as airlines prepare for the projected influx of passengers during 2022 and beyond. There is light at the end of the tunnel – and that’s one thing I ‘am’ sure about.
Blue skies and tailwinds.